Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2023 Nov 14. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00140.2023. Online ahead of print.
Defining a timeline of colon pathologies after keratin 8 loss: Rapid crypt elongation and diarrhea are followed by epithelial erosion and cell exfoliation
Cell Biology, Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland. Pulmonary and Critical Care, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, United States. University of Turku, Turku, Turkey.
Service type: Knockout mice
Keratins are epithelial intermediate filament proteins that play a crucial role in cellular stress protection, with K8 being the most abundant in the colon. The intestinal epithelial-specific K8-deficient mouse model (K8flox/flox;Villin-Cre) exhibits characteristics of inflammatory bowel disease, including diarrhea, crypt erosion, hyperproliferation and decreased barrier function. Nevertheless, the order in which these events occur and whether they are a direct cause of K8 loss or a consequence of one event inducing another remains unexplored. Increased knowledge about early events in the disruption of colon epithelial integrity would help to understand the early pathology of inflammatory and functional colon disorders and develop preclinical models and diagnostics of colonic diseases. Here, we aimed to characterize the order of physiological events after Krt8 loss by utilizing K8flox/flox;Villin-CreERt2 mice with tamoxifen-inducible Krt8 deletion in intestinal epithelial cells, and assess stool analysis as a noninvasive method to monitor real-time gene expression changes following Krt8 loss. K8 protein was significantly decreased within a day after induction, followed by its binding partners, K18 and K19 from day 4 onwards. The sequential colonic K8 downregulation in adult mice lead to immediate diarrhea and crypt elongation with activation of proliferation signaling, followed by crypt loss and increased neutrophil activity within 6-8 days, highlighting impaired water balance and crypt elongation as the earliest colonic changes upon Krt8 loss. Furthermore, epithelial gene expression patterns were comparable between colon tissue and stool samples, demonstrating the feasibility of noninvasive monitoring of gut epithelia in preclinical research utilizing Cre-LoxP-based intestinal disease models.
Keywords: Exfoliated cells; Keratin; Mouse model; Noninvasive; Simple epithelium.